A Goshen man faces multiple federal fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating funds invested for green energy products.
Earl D. Miller, 40, was charged with six counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities Exchange Commission.
According to court documents, Miller began raising money for a private investment fund named 5 Star Commercial, which was supposed to raise money and invest money in real estate projects. Miller gained control of the fund and created another company, 5 Star Capital, which raised money under the guise of investing the funds in energy-saving green products.
Federal authorities said Miller recruited novice investors and members of the Amish community in at least eight states to invest funds in nearly a dozen companies he controlled. He advertised in local Amish newspapers and arranged community meetings with local Amish families to discuss investment opportunities.
Prosecutors said between June 1, 2014 and August 2015, Miller raised $4.3 million from at least 70 investors by lying about what would happen to the money.
Miller allegedly told 5 Star Commercial investors he would not get paid for managing the funds, then “misappropriated” over $1 million for his personal use. The indictment states that Miller also told investors their money would be used exclusively in real estate, but then invested or transferred $391,000 in funds into “highly speculative” start-up companies selling “green products.”
Prosecutors said Miller also falsely told 5 Star Capital investors his company owned patents on “green” products and that his company would put money in “green” companies that would produce those products. His company did not own any patents, and Miller instead purportedly invested in companies after performing “virtually no due diligence.”
Miller was also charged with securities fraud and bankruptcy fraud for omissions made during bankruptcy proceedings.
“Investment fraud schemes, like the one charged today, ensnare hundreds of victims each year across the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II. “This case is an excellent example of our law enforcement partners working together to seek justice on behalf of the defendant’s alleged victims.”
In September 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana ordered Miller to pay over $5.2 million for defrauding investors while he was based in Mishawaka.
Miller is set to make his first appearance in federal court for current charges in South Bend on June 23.